Jake Owen was known as a singer-songwriter. He was proud of that fact. He even found success as an artist with both distinctions.
But when the time came for Jake to record his third album he realized he had to give up one of his titles, at least partially, in order to grow. The result was more success overall and today the future appears bigger and better for the rising country star.
Jake Owen, Singer-Songwriter
Jake Owen’s first single, Yee Haw, was released in early 2006. The song later became a top 20 hit on the country charts. This was a huge success for a new artist. Being able to crack the charts at all with a debut single is impressive. To reach the top 20 meant Jake was in the minds of country fans.
Jake followed up with an even bigger single the second time out. Startin’ With Me became his first top ten hit. The song was huge in 2006 and 2007. This was really the first time people starting thinking of Jake Owen as a potential country star. He had a unique voice and it also turned out that he wrote or co-wrote every song on his debut record.
It’s not uncommon for new artists to write their own marterial. After all, new artists don’t typically get access to the best of the best songs. First dibs go to the established artists with a better chance of turning a song into a hit. So new artists are left to fend for themselves and this can work out well for some just as it did for Jake Owen.
After another top 20 hit, Jake released a new single from his upcoming sophomore album. The song, Don’t Think I Can’t Love You, was another co-write for Jake. The song became a huge hit reaching #2 on the charts. This was the biggest song of Jake’s young career. He was further establishing himself as a potential country star.
The campy single, Eight Second Ride, followed and nearly cracked the top ten. This single was actually a song Jake included on both of his first two records.
But after Eight Second Ride became a big hit selling over 500,000 copies and downloads, Jake entered a crossroads. The third single from Easy Does It, his second album didn’t do as well on the charts. The song was good and is still good, but fans were getting tired of hearing Jake Owen on the radio. It can happen for new artists. There isn’t always a reason why.
In 2010, time came and went. It was an interesting time for Jake and his fans. There was a question of how Jake would come out with his third album and retake his trajectory toward stardom. He was known as a rising country star, but he was still a new star with a couple hits. It takes more than that to really establish yourself for a decade of more success.
Jake must have known this to be true because when the first single from his third album was released in 2011, things were different.
Barefoot Blue Jean Night
Barefoot Blue Jean Night was released in the spring of 2011. The song was a huge hit. It went to #1 on the charts and also went platinum for over 1 million copies sold.
Jake was back and this time he was bigger than before.
The casual fan may not have noticed, but it was interesting to learn that Jake did not write Barefoot Blue Jean Night. This was interesting since Jake had been known as a songwriter up to this point. He had written or co-written all but one song on his first two records.
But Jake realized that country music was about hits. He knew he had to let down his pride a little bit and put the best songs on his records even if that meant shelving his own songs.
The album of the same name was released later in the year and debuted at #1 on the album charts, Jake’s highest charting debut. It turned out that Jake not only didn’t write the first single, but he only had one songwriting credit on the entire record.
Jake would say in inteviews that he realized he didn’t have to write all the material anymore. He had originally thought he would be in a special club in country music of those that have recorded only their own material. Once he was able to get pas this Jake was able to record and release his best work yet. The second single, Alone With You has now gone #1 on the charts.
The third single, The One That Got Away, is interesting enough the lone co-write of Jake’s on the record.
If you look back in country music history you’ll see examples of singer-songwriters and singers all having success. There has always been a little bit of a stigma that goes with writing your own songs, but it’s nothing like it is in rock music or a few other genres.
It’s Ok for country artists to record songs written by others.
George Strait is perhaps the biggest example. He’s the rock of consistency in country music and for much of his career he never wrote a single song he recorded. The story is that he had written a few early songs, but then ceased all the way up until about 30 years into his career he started collaborating with his son, Bubba.
There have been examples of singer-songwriters having long-term success too. Alan Jackson and Toby Keith come to mind. Clint Black is another one that had a solid run of success as always being the writer or co-writer of his material.
But when you look at the longest careers in country history, it appears that the artists that simply pick the best songs instead of favoring their own have the most success for their entire lives.
Jake Owen made this change with Barefoot Blue Jean Night and it appears to have set him up well for future success.
Jake Owen is now one of the biggest stars in country music. When you string together a couple number ones in a row you are on to something. Jake is riding high on success and it will be interesting to see how he approaches his fourth record. This would be the point where a few more huge hits could take Jake Owen to headliner status.
Right now, Jake is perhaps a level below Jason Aldean and Blake Shelton. But with another strong record full of hits he could reach that status in a few years.
It seems the best way to make it there is to record and relase only the best songs. They could be Jake’s, but it appears that now he’s willing to cast a wider net and look at any song the great writers in Nashville will pitch to him.
It was a change in strategy and it worked out big time for Jake Owen.